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3 On Your Side: Air Crash Survival Advice

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The aftermath of the crash landing of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 is enough to make even the most frequent fliers jittery.

Years ago, 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan was an airline flight attendant. He says many of those passengers may owe their survival to some very important safety rules.

Most plane crashes are survivable, but you increase your odds of walking away from an accident if you better prepare yourself in advance.

Frequent fliers may often settle in, buckle up and tune out the safety briefings at the beginning of a flight. But that short announcement can provide some of the best preparation for an accident like this one, where more than 300 people survived.

Mary Schiavo, former Department of Transportation Inspector General, says, "They got lucky, and many things in the plane help people to survive. The survivability factors have increased dramatically the last 15 years."

The most important rule in the cabin? Follow crew member instructions. Former Consumer Safety Consultant Nancy Harvey Steorts says, "Be very sure that on every plane that you go on that you listen very carefully."

Before takeoff, the Federal Aviation Administration recommends passengers locate emergency exits in front of and behind them and count the rows in case cabin visibility is poor during an emergency. A seat belt should be low and tight. Keeping it lower than your stomach and on your hips can reduce the risk of internal injuries during a crash landing.

You should think about footwear when you fly. High heels aren't allowed on an evacuation slide, and sandals and flip-flops can leave feet more exposed to debris following a crash. Even wearing shorts or stockings can pose a risk. The friction of going down an evacuation slide often can leave people with burns or painful rashes.

Finally, during an evacuation, leave your carry-on items behind. Your number one objective is to just get out and get away from the plane.

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